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New Mom Losing the Plot

Dear Nancy,

Hope you can help me, I’m stressed to the point of losing the plot, which is ironic as I’m a freelance writer. My first career was in the restaurant industry, which is how I found hertelier, and most of my writing is about food, cooking, restaurants, and chefs.

Covid has been profoundly hard all over hospitality, but in my case, it also coincided with the birth of my daughter, our first child. As a freelancer, I didn’t have maternity leave, though I am incredibly lucky that my husband had a paid leave from work. Despite that, I immediately tried to start juggling being a new mom and work, and I’m still feeling swamped a year later even though we have (part-time) childcare.

I’m someone who prides myself on being “on top of things,” and suddenly I feel behind on everything, which in and of itself is stressful. I don’t have any of that brain space or time to focus on big picture goals or vision, and I’m worried my work is not up to my usual standards. Please help me.

Losing the Plot, Brooklyn

Dear Losing the Plot,

PLEASE BREATHE. Inhale… exhale… and repeat, at least until your heart rate drops. I’m being serious. That’s literally what I had to do after reading your email. Your stress is so palpable I could feel it in your words, and breathing is the most basic thing you can do to calm down and regain control of yourself.

Good time to remember this instruction from the airlines: "if there should be a change in cabin pressure...put your oxygen mask on first before helping others" … especially as a new Mom. By the way, it works on the ground too, so in addition to breathing, please, give yourself permission to take a nap. Taking care of yourself is vital to you and everyone in your life.

OK, let’s unpack your situation:

1) New Mom and all the physically, emotionally, and mentally life-changing stuff that comes along with motherhood and parenting.

2) Global Pandemic…need I say more about the effects of THIS?

3) Freelancing, and all the unpredictability of this work-style choice. My friend, you hit the trifecta of stress and haven’t even given yourself the time or permission to process it all.

No wonder you feel overwhelmed. Give yourself a break. You haven’t lost the plot … the plot has changed!

To be sure, Covid has turned the world upside down. All the things we could count on to reach out to for stability no longer work. Our neat little grids of familiarity and perceived control have essentially vanished and “we’re not in Kansas anymore!” We’re all just feeling our way forward.

On the upside, this pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to reassess…to rediscover what’s of value in our lives, what our priorities are, to find new ways of dealing with old problems… to renew our strength and to realize that real security lies on the inside.

Perhaps these words from my greatest mentor will help. She told me, “There will always be anxiety and stress in our lives. There’s the anxiety of staying in the same place, and perhaps going backward. Or the anxiety of going forward into the unknown. Pick one!”

This recent hertelier interview with a working, new mom offers some incredibly valuable insights Navigating New Motherhood: How Francesca Marcigliano Became More Efficient after Becoming a Mom Please check it out.


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